Saintly Sexlessness. Notes on the Apophthegmata Patrum

Silviu Lupaşcu
2016 Review of Ecumenical Studies Sibiu  
The textual proximity of "woman" and "apocryphal literature" in a fragment included in the Apophthegmata Patrum may seem paradoxical. Abba Sopatrus' apophthegm must be understood against the background of the theological debates of Origenists and non-Origenists during the 4th – 6th centuries, in Northern Egypt, and consequently needs to be exegetically enframed between Emperor Justinian I. (l. 482-565; r. 527-565) Edictum contra Origenem and Archimandrite Shenute of Atripe (348-466)'s Contra
more » ... genistas. In fact, the contemporary Gnostic literature was able to generate heretical sexual imagery. The Apocryphon of John (II, 1; III, 1; IV, 1; BG 8502, 2), included in the Nag Hammadi Library, explains in a sexual manner the origin of evil. Abba Sopatrus' apophthegm testifies about the proximity of Christianity and Gnosticism in Northern Egypt during the period of the Desert Fathers, and also about the effort of the abbas to establish firm limits against sexual lust and the lust of the erroneous dogmata. Both posed tremendous potential danger of disintegrating the monks' peace of mind and peace of soul.
doi:10.1515/ress-2016-0028 fatcat:anjmwkamzrgqfdesn5sc3bmr7i